Traités, États parties et Commentaires
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Commentaire of 2016 
Article 64 : <a href="http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebART/365-570076?OpenDocument">Registration with the United Nations</a>
Text of the provision
The Swiss Federal Council shall register the present Convention with the Secretariat of the United Nations. The Swiss Federal Council shall also inform the Secretariat of the United Nations of all ratifications, accessions and denunciations received by it with respect to the present Convention.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
1  According to Article 102(1) of the 1945 UN Charter, ‘[e]very treaty and every international agreement entered into by any Member of the United Nations after the present Charter comes into force [24 October 1945] shall as soon as possible be registered with the Secretariat and published by it.’
2  Article 64, which is common to the four Conventions,[1] entrusts the Swiss Federal Council, as depositary of the Conventions, with the task of arranging for their registration with the UN Secretariat and of informing it of any ratifications, accessions and denunciations which it receives with respect to the Conventions.[2]
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B. Historical background
3  This provision can be traced back to the 1929 Geneva Conventions.[3] At that time, Article 18 of the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations already provided that ‘[e]very treaty or international engagement entered into hereafter by any Member of the League shall be forthwith registered with the Secretariat and shall as soon as possible be published by it.’
4  The draft conventions adopted by the 1948 International Conference of the Red Cross in Stockholm reproduced the obligation of registration with the UN Secretariat, as required by Article 102(1) of the UN Charter. According to the draft, ‘[t]he present Convention shall be transmitted by the Swiss Federal Council to the United Nations Organization, for the purpose of registration.’[4] This wording prompted the observation during the Joint Committee that it was ‘assumed that the Swiss Federal Council would forward to the United Nations Organization, for the purpose of registration, a copy and not the original document of the present Convention’.[5] A brief discussion about the necessity of introducing this provision in the Convention confirmed that the formality of registration would in no way affect the validity of the Convention.[6] The Special Committee therefore amended the Stockholm Draft to its current wording.[7] This amendment was then adopted unanimously by the Joint Committee and later in the Plenary Meeting of the Conference.[8]
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C. Discussion
1. First sentence: Registration
5  The first sentence of Article 64 deals with the registration of the Convention with the UN Secretariat. It corresponds to the obligation under Article 102(1) of the UN Charter for all treaties entered into by a UN Member State to be registered as soon as possible with the UN Secretariat.[9] In the case of this Convention, the task of registration with the UN Secretariat is entrusted to the Swiss Federal Council.[10]
6  Registration with the UN helps to make treaties more widely known, ensuring transparency and security in international relations. However, the obligation to register is not a condition for the entry into force of the Convention or for the entry into force of the Convention with respect to a State that has ratified or acceded to it. The binding force of the Convention results solely from the procedures of ratification, accession and entry into force laid down in Articles 57–61.
7  According to Article 102(2) of the UN Charter, no Party to any treaty entered into by a UN Member which has not been registered with the UN Secretariat may invoke it before any organ of the UN.[11] As the Conventions have been registered, they may be invoked before UN organs, including its principal judicial organ, the International Court of Justice. Resolution I of the 1949 Diplomatic Conference recommends ‘in the case of a dispute relating to the interpretation or application of the present Conventions which cannot be settled by other means, the High Contracting Parties concerned endeavour to agree between themselves to refer such dispute to the International Court of Justice’.[12]
8  The Convention entered into force on 21 October 1950, six months after the second ratification, by Yugoslavia on 21 April 1950, pursuant to Article 58 of the Convention. Shortly after its entry into force, a certified true copy of the Convention was duly transmitted on 2 November 1950 by the depositary to the UN Secretariat for registration and publication. The Secretariat then provided the depositary with a certificate of registration, which is deposited in the archives of the Swiss Confederation.[13]
9  After their registration, treaties are published in the United Nations Treaty Series, which is available on the internet.[14] The UN Secretariat is responsible for their publication, which is made in the authentic languages of the treaty and, if these do not include English and French, with translations into those languages.
10  The four Geneva Conventions are published in their two authentic languages, English and French,[15] in the United Nations Treaty Series.[16]
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2. Second sentence: Subsequent treaty actions
11  The second sentence of Article 64 entrusts the depositary also with the task of informing the UN Secretariat of ratifications, accessions and denunciations of the Convention.[17] The same would obviously also apply to successions.[18]
12  In addition, the depositary is required to inform the UN Secretariat of all subsequent treaty actions affecting the Convention. This obligation is not directly provided for in the Convention or in the UN Charter. It ensues from Article 2 of the Regulations to give effect to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations, which provides:
When a treaty or international agreement has been registered with the Secretariat, a certified statement regarding any subsequent action which effects a change in the parties thereto, or the terms, scope or application thereof, shall also be registered with the Secretariat.[19]
13  Pursuant to this provision of the Regulations, the depositary should also inform the UN Secretariat of every subsequent reservation, objection and declaration, including of a territorial nature. Any potential amendment of the Convention, on the other hand, would constitute a new treaty in itself.
14  In order to fulfil the task of registering subsequent treaty actions affecting the Convention, the depositary in practice transmits to the UN Secretariat a copy of every notification it sends to the States Parties to that Convention.[20] Such a notification is regarded as the ‘certified statement’ required by Article 2 of the aforementioned Regulations.
15  All subsequent treaty actions are also published in the United Nations Treaty Series.[21]
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Select bibliography
Aust, Anthony, Modern Treaty Law and Practice, 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 297–307 (Registration and publication).
Hinojal-Oyarbide, Arancha and Rosenboom, Annebeth, ‘Managing the Process of Treaty Formation – Depositaries and Registration’, in Duncan B. Hollis (ed.), The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 248–276.
Jacqué, Jean-Paul, in Jean-Pierre Cot and Alain Pellet (eds), La Charte des Nations Unies. Commentaire article par article, Article 102, Vol. II, Economica, Paris, 2005, pp. 2117–2132.
Klein, Pierre, ‘Article 80: Registration and publication of treaties’, in Olivier Corten and Pierre Klein (eds), The Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties: A Commentary, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 1797–1805.
Martens, Ernst, ‘Article 102’, in Bruno Simma, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Georg Nolte and Andreas Paulus (eds), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Article 102, Vol. II, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 2089–2109.
Ouguergouz, Fatsah, Villalpando, Santiago and Morgan-Foster, Jason, ‘Article 77: Functions of depositaries’, in Olivier Corten and Pierre Klein (eds), The Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties: A Commentary, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 1715–1753, at 1748–1750.
Reuter, Paul, Introduction to the Law of Treaties, 2nd edition, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, 1995, pp. 70–71 (Registration and publication).
Schenker, Claude, Practice Guide to International Treaties, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Bern, 2015, pp. 37–40, available at www.fdfa.admin.ch/treaties.
United Nations, Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Handbook, Revised edition, 2012, pp. 29–38.
Villiger, Mark E., Commentary on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2009, pp. 944 (Article 77) and 970–976 (Article 80).

1 - See Second Convention, Article 63; Third Convention, Article 143; and Fourth Convention, Article 159.
2 - A parallel provision exists for the Additional Protocols; see Additional Protocol I, Article 101; Additional Protocol II, Article 27; and Additional Protocol III, Article 16.
3 - Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick (1929), Article 39; Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), Article 97. Both articles provided for a certified copy of the Convention to be deposited by the Swiss Federal Council in the archives of the League of Nations and for the Swiss Federal Council to communicate to the League of Nations any ratifications, accessions and denunciations which it received.
4 - See Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, Article 52, p. 29.
5 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-B, p. 25.
6 - Ibid. pp. 72–73 and 95. On the issue of validity, see also section C.1.
7 - Adopted by 6 votes for, 1 against with 1 abstention; see Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-B, pp. 113–114.
8 - See ibid. p. 30. The Drafting Committee reached the current wording of this provision after slightly redrafting it from ‘Government of the Swiss Confederation’ to ‘Swiss Federal Council’ and from ‘notices of termination’ to ‘denunciations’ (Ibid. p. 163).
9 - By Resolution 97 (I) of 14 December 1946 on Registration and Publication of Treaties and International Agreements, the UN General Assembly adopted the ‘Regulations to give effect to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations’. These Regulations have been amended several times (Resolution 364B (IV) of 1 December 1949, Resolution 482 (V) of 12 December 1950, and Resolution 33/141 of 19 December 1978, and Resolution 52/153 of 15 December 1997). The Regulations define the scope of the obligation of UN Members and the procedure to be followed by the Secretariat to execute this function. Essentially, registration needs the transmission to the Secretariat of a certified true and complete copy of the treaty, with its attachments in all its authentic languages, together with the text of all reservations and declarations and the names of the signatories, as well as the date and method of entry into force (see also an annually updated note verbale of the legal counsel of the UN with an attached checklist, available at http://treaties.un.org).
10 - While the registration of bilateral agreements and of multilateral treaties which do not specify a depositary is, when not agreed upon between the Parties, left to each Party’s initiative, multilateral treaties which provide for a depositary usually entrust that depositary with the task of arranging for their registration. Even in the absence of such a clause, the depositary must carry out this duty. See Article 77(1)(g) of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which lists the registration of a treaty among the functions of the depositary, and which appears generally to codify customary international law (Villiger, p. 945). Once a treaty is registered, all Parties to it are relieved of the obligation to register. The designation of the depositary also constitutes an authorization for it to perform the registration; see Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), Article 80(2). This authorization for all depositaries was necessary since, until 1969, the UN Secretariat accepted registration by the depositary only when the latter had been expressly authorized to that effect (see Villiger, p. 975, and Martens, p. 2098).
11 - The consequences of non-registration remain uncertain and controversial; see, in particular, Aust, pp. 301–303, and Martens, pp. 2107–2109. It is also doubtful whether an international humanitarian law treaty could be ignored by an organ of the UN merely because it had not been registered.
12 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. I, p. 361.
13 - This certificate, numbered 2425 for the First Convention, and 2426, 2427 and 2428 respectively for the other three Conventions, bears the following wording: ‘The Secretary-General of the United Nations Hereby certifies that the Government of the Swiss Confederation has registered with the Secretariat in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations the [Convention]. Signed at Geneva, on 12 August 1949. The registration took place on 2 November 1950 under No. 970 [respectively 971, 972 and 973]. Done at New York, on 23 January 1951. To the Government of the Swiss Confederation. The Secretary-General [signature]’.
14 - See http://treaties.un.org.
15 - See First Convention, Article 55; Second Convention, Article 54; Third Convention, Article 133; and Fourth Convention, Article 150.
16 - See United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 75, 1950, pp. 3–474, under Nos 970–973 for the four Conventions respectively.
17 - On ratification, see Article 57; on accession and notification thereof, see Articles 60–61; on denunciation, see Article 63. The information will include any reservations and declarations contained in the respective instruments.
18 - On succession, see the commentary on Article 60, section C.4.
19 - On the Regulations, see footnote 9.
20 - See e.g. Articles 57(2), 61(2), 62, second sentence, and Article 63(2).
21 - See http://treaties.un.org.